BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has agreed to appropriate $75,000 to add an additional van service to an existing senior shuttle in Acton and Maynard. The funding was secured by Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg), Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), and Representative Kate Hogan (D-Stow) last year during the FY18 state budget process, but Governor Charlie Baker vetoed the funding, resulting in a delay of the appropriation. The Massachusetts Legislature overrode the veto in the fall of 2017, and MassDOT has officially agreed to release the funding.
“I was disappointed when the Governor vetoed the funding for this critical program,” said Representative Benson. “Many seniors and persons with disabilities in our districts depend on the shuttle service to get around town and to medical appointments. I’m extremely proud of the advocacy work done by Representative Hogan, Senator Eldridge, and I to fight for this funding and override the veto.”
“The Senior Van Program is a great service that allows seniors in Acton and Maynard to get to appointments, participate in daily activities, and live independently,” said Senator Eldridge. “I was happy to work with Representatives Hogan and Benson to secure this funding in the state budget, and to override the Governor’s veto of the funding. We will continue to work together to improve access to reliable transportation services in our communities.”
“I was proud to work with my colleagues last year to secure funding that will allow for the expansion of the Senior Van Program,” said Representative Kate Hogan (D-Stow). “I have always believed that public transportation is an essential service and our Senior Van Program does important work enabling seniors and individuals with disabilities to travel around town. With the Baker-Polito Administration’s release of the state funds, this program can now add additional van service to help residents get where they need to go.”
The Towns of Acton and Maynard provide limited transportation for seniors and persons with disabilities though funds from the MBTA and the Lowell Regional Transit Authority (LRTA) Senior Van Program. Each town has one van that brings passengers to appointments.
The Senior Van Program currently provides transportation for approximately 4,000 individual appointments per year and the vans are most often used to bring seniors to appointments at Emerson Hospital in Concord.
Those who need transportation for local appointments, grocery shopping and to-and-from the Council on Aging are limited to odd time slots or long waits between drop-off and pick-up because the vans must wait for the appointments at Emerson to finish before returning to Acton or Maynard. Adding additional van service specifically for those medical trips will free up the other vans to provide seniors with the ability to keep their local appointments and maintain their independence.